As a high school student, you’re probably used to parents and teachers nagging you about spending too much time on social media (and not enough on your college applications). Between scrolling through last night’s pictures on Facebook, tweeting back and forth with your BFFs, uploading selfies onto Instagram and pinning outfit ideas for spring break, there’s hardly time left for browsing college websites!
Luckily, universities across the country are stepping up their social media presences. You no longer have to spend hours scouring a school’s site to determine whether or not it’s the right fit for you. Facebook and other social media platforms now serve as valuable resources in helping prospective students make their college decisions.
“It's important to follow universities on social media because first off, it's 2015—if a university or college isn't on Facebook or Twitter, that in itself can say something about how traditional or modern they are,” says Sarah Yu, a grad student at the City University of New York. “Many colleges post about events or sports, and that can tell you a lot about their campus life.”
If you’re looking to narrow down your list of potential schools, look no further you’re your Facebook feed! Here’s a look at some of the most-followed universities on Facebook and how they’re stepping up their social-media game.
1. Harvard University
Everyone knows Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the country, but what are its students and faculty doing to maintain that status? One look at the Harvard Facebook page gives prospective students an idea of all the academic breakthroughs happening on campus. Scroll on to find links to a variety of Harvard-related news stories, such as the school’s research on human genetics or a preview of the newly renovated art museum.
Feel inspired by any of these articles? Are you passionate about similar topics? Can you picture yourself in the shoes of the students you’re reading about? Perusing news stories straight from campus can be a great way to determine whether or not a school such as Harvard is the right fit for you. Not to mention, the school recently posted a video to their Facebook page in which real students give personal testimonies about their first year on campus.
2. Yale University
The Yale Facebook page does a spectacular job of showcasing campus life for prospective students via their photo albums. One of their most popular albums of the past year, Fall at Yale (2014), features breathtaking photos of fall foliage at the most beautiful spots on campus.
If the beauty of Mother Nature in New Haven isn’t enough to convince you, scroll through some of Yale’s other Facebook albums to get a feel for the student body and life on campus.
3. Louisiana State University
When it comes to school spirit, the LSU Facebook page sets the bar high. With just a few clicks, prospective students can read up on highlights from the football season, view pictures of fans cheering in the student sections of games and watch videos of current students giving personal testimonies on why they love being LSU Tigers.
Let’s face it: While academics are important, so is being proud of the school you go to. Discovering that one of your potential schools has awesome school spirit can make your decision all the more easier! Take advantage of social media to scope out the spirit of the universities you’re interested in.
4. Stanford University
If you’re curious about ways to get involved on Stanford’s campus, look no further than their Facebook page. Whether you want to see the score of the latest football game, watch a video of the symphony orchestra’s performance or find information about studying abroad in Europe, you can find it on the Facebook page, which serves as a one-stop shop for all things Stanford.
With a wide variety of information, links, photos and videos available, it’s easy to get all of your questions about Stanford answered in one convenient location, which means you won’t have to spend time scrolling through links or pages on their official website. Attention all other universities: Take notes!
5. The Ohio State University
Big 10 schools are known for being passionate about athletics, and Ohio State is no exception. Its Facebook page showcases what they’re known for best: Buckeye football, die-hard fans and an alumni network that stretches nationwide. Not only is the university’s Facebook page a great place to get updates on OSU sports teams, but prospective students can also view pictures and stories about all the cool things that alumni are doing and the places they’re traveling to.
As a high school student, you’re focused on finding a home for the next four years. However, it’s important to see the kinds of things students are doing with their degree once they’re off campus, too! Reading up on a school’s alumni network is a great way to determine if a school is the right fit for you, which is why OSU’s Facebook page is such a gem (and such a useful tool!).
6. University of Michigan
When it comes to engaging with prospective students, the U of M Facebook page earns the top spot. The university tailors its posts to anxious applicants, reminding them of deadlines and other important information. Not to mention, many of its posts are interactive, encouraging followers to tweet and Instagram pictures with hashtags such as #GoBlue. The page even features Michigan-themed trivia questions and T-shirt giveaways to grab the attention of prospective students. As an applicant plagued with hundreds of college emails on the daily, these social engagement tactics will help you keep Michigan on your mind.
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Contrary to popular belief, there’s much more to MIT than just math, science, engineering and research. Its Facebook page offers an inside look at some of the university’s lesser-known academic endeavors and resources. Prospective students can read about clubs and extracurricular activities such as the MIT Science Fiction Society or the Latino Cultural Center, as well as Greek life.
Moral of the story: Never assume you know everything about a school! Before you go to check one of your options off your list, be sure to scope it out on social media and read up on what you might be missing.
8. Indiana University Bloomington
Academics, athletics and alumni aside, IU Bloomington’s Facebook page showcases how students and faculty are making an impact on local and global scales. Prospective students can scroll through posts to read about the school’s record-breaking dance marathon, which raised over $3 million for a children’s hospital this past fall. The university also used social media to promote #GivingTuesday, on which it encouraged followers and alumni to donate and support student scholarships (something that’s important for any prospective student!).
As a prospective student, it’s important to know how a school is giving back to its students, the surrounding community and those in need. Knowing a school is dedicated to serving a cause you care about can help keep them on your radar during the application process!
9. Franklin & Marshall College
Getting noticed on social media can be difficult for smaller schools like Franklin & Marshall who don’t attract the followers of a large, public university. Despite their size, the Franklin & Marshall Facebook page knows how to compete with the best of collegiate social media sites.
Their photo albums and news stories showcase highlights of the students’ accomplishments, such as the replica of the Berlin Wall built by the German Club or the Shakespeare play performed by the theatre department. These posts are reassuring to prospective students like yourself who may be concerned with the variety of opportunities available at a small school.
“I find that my school, Franklin & Marshall, is great on social media and really posts a lot of cool and unique things,” says senior Shira Kipnees. “By checking out schools like F&M on social media, you can get a better sense of what they are like and you can interact with [the school] and current students in a meaningful way—my college president is friends with all of [us students] on Facebook and Twitter!” Sounds awesome to us!
10. Belmont University
Located in the heart of Nashville, Belmont is known for its stellar music programs and talented student body. Their Facebook page gives pre-collegiettes a glimpse at what they’re known for best—their musically inclined students! A recent music video posted to the page features two Belmont students singing a mash-up of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” and “Style,” which went viral and was praised by Tay herself.
In case the videos of Belmont’s talented student body aren’t convincing enough, the page also features pictures of the new buildings and practice rooms that were added to campus within the past year.
While many colleges like to keep their social media accounts serious, it’s refreshing to see a school that isn’t afraid to have some fun. Belmont’s entertaining Facebook page and frequent use of hashtags keep the attention of their prospective students and keep the school standing out from the crowd.
Social media is no longer just fun and games! Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all become valuable resources for prospective students looking to make their college decisions. Don’t limit your research to college websites alone—explore your options on social media, and you’ll be able to make an informed decision about the school that’s right for you. Best of luck, pre-collegiettes!